The Pope of Surprises

Here is my latest article for Aleteia on the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.

The week after Pope Benedict’s surprise resignation, I began writing “Papabile Profiles” for Aleteia. I did my research and learned everything I could about the world’s leading cardinals.

What a stunning array of talent had risen to the top of the Church! From a dynamic young cardinal from the Philippines to a multi-talented Canadian polyglot; from a convert from pagan Africa to the rollicking and rubicund cardinal from New York City. A vast range of ability, experience, and colorful personalities paraded in their red robes for me to dissect and display to the world. But there was one I didn’t mention – the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Bergoglio was in the list of Cardinals, but nobody was talking about him. At 76, he was thought to be too old. His moment was past, having lost out to Ratzinger in 2005. He was not an expert linguist, now was he well-travelled. He had intentionally avoided getting more experience in the Curia. He wasn’t an expert liturgist or theologian. He was a Jesuit; an outsider. He was from the other side of the globe. He was unknown.

Yet on March 13, 2013, he stood at the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, offering the world nothing more than a placid smile and a grandfatherly wave.

Read the whole article here.